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 Post subject: RD580 boards: Abit AT8 32X vs. Asus A8R32-MVP (with ninja)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:14 am 
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Location: Linkoping, Sweden
Originally planned on getting an Asus A8N-SLI Premium, but the NF4 chipset is a little bit too warm for my liking.
The R580 chips seems like a good solution.

Pros:
[both] Good layout (similar to A8N-SLI Premium), ninja can be ducted to back exhaust.
[both] Cooler than NF4
[abit] All fans headers controllable.
[asus] Dual ethernet.

Cons
[abit] Backplate ventilation may need blocking to prevent re-intake of exhausted hot air.
[asus] bad support, lots of problems reported in forums (some report them mostly fixed with latest 0404 bios)

Comments?

EDIT: Images of the layouts.
Image Image


Last edited by ceselb on Sun May 07, 2006 10:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:48 pm 
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Pro for Abit: Their motherboards these days come with a pretty good onboard fan controller (FanEQ). It uses variable DC voltage instead of PWM, and the newer boards control more (all?) of the fan headers, some going as low as 6V.

Con for Abit: The uGuru sensors may not be compatible with Speedfan or many of the other sensor readout applications, but Motherboard Monitor works fine with my AI7. Different generations of the uGuru application have varying degrees of capabilities and display space needs.

FanEQ can be set up and parameters defined in the BIOS. It doesn't require the uGuru app.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 4:36 am 
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I have the Asus A8R32-MVP. I built the system around 1 week ago:
Motherboard: Asus A8R32-MVP
CPU: AMD Opteron 146 single-core (default multiplier 10x)
Graphics: 7600GS (XFX fanless model)
Memory: G-Skill ZX PC3200 2-3-3-6, 2GB kit
CPU Cooler: Scythe Ninja (fanless)
PSU: Seasonic S12-430
Case: Antec Sonata (original, with case mods)
Case fan 1: the 120mm fan that comes with the Scythe Ninja: wired to the CPU fan header
Case fan 2: a 120mm intake fan at 5V to cool the HDDs
HDDs: five SATA drives, suspended

Here are my comments on the Asus motherboard in the hope it helps others:
Scythe Ninja compatibility Certainly compatible, the CPU socket positioning is good for cooling by both rear case fan and PSU fan, and fairly good component clearance (if using the Ninja it is probably better to use the further pair of RAM sockets not the closer pair, for best airflow). Relatively easy to install the Ninja: it is compatible with the fitted Asus backplate so no need to change the backplate, just change the top plate to the ninja version. Warning to others: the Ninja heatsink is difficult to clip onto the top plate at the final stage, it requires significant physical force on the clips working in a tight space and so it is much easier to do this outside the PC case.
Motherboard layout Excellent, best I have ever used apart from the strangely positioned fifth SATA socket. Positioning of power cable sockets is excellent, and CPU fan socket is also well positioned. The case fan socket is on the front of the motherboard, good for an intake fan but you might need long leads for a rear fan.
General coolness The motherboard is very cool running - chipset is warm to the touch, not hot, even with Prime95 testing or Memtest86. Case temperatures typically 32-35 degrees C.
Q-Fan The motherboard offers temperature-dependent control of fan speeds. You can set a 'startup' fan speed with a setting which varies from 0 to 100: I found that 51 was the threshold of audibility with my CPU fan, so I used that as the 'startup' speed (it is also possible to have the CPU fan completely off below another threshold). There is a temperature threshold for the fan to ramp up to full speed: I used 47 degrees C (max recommended CPU temperature is 55 degrees). On my setup the 47 degrees temperature is reached after 2 hours of Prime95 on a warm day: the fan then cycles up to full speed and down again to hold the CPU temperature at that level. This is not ideal (see fault (1) below) so best to rely on the full-speed temperature threshold just as a safety device, not a regular feature of your cooling setup.
There are also corresponding Case Fan settings which are independent of the CPU Fan settings.
Configuration and overclocking I am running the Opteron at 2600MHz (30% overclock) while undervolting to 1.275V, and it is Prime95 stable for many days. This is with 5x multiplier for Hypertransport, so a 1.3GHz Hypertransport bus speed, and according to reviews the motherboard can do even higher than that. Note that many people have had difficulty overclocking or even booting this board, and the reason seems to be memory related: certainly with my G-Skill ZX memory it does not work if you try to overclock using the 'Auto' memory settings, you must manually set your memory timings. Nice feature: if the overclock does not work, the motherboard automatically boots up next time with stable settings, so you never need to use the CMOS reset switch - also it does not reset all the settings, only those which it 'intelligently' decides are the culprits for the overclocking failure. (This is why some people on forums report they are "unable" to get it to clock above 200MHz: unfortunately it seems to think that overclocking the CPU is the source of the errors, when often it is the memory timings that are the root cause.)

Good features
(1) Once you understand that you must use manual memory timings, it overclocks exceptionally well, certainly comparable in ability to DFI boards that I have used in the past although the BIOS layout is very different here (also some of the memory timings' abbreviations are different) so there is a learning curve: best to try overclocking this motherboard while you have access to the web on another PC.
(2) SATA and PATA drive interfaces are very nice - extremely fast drive-to-drive transfers of multi-gigabyte files and a music CD can be ripped in approximately 2 minutes (although longer to encode!)

Faults
(1) The Q-Fan has no "hysteresis": when the fan ramps up to full speed, that rapidly has the effect of cooling the CPU enough that the fan speed ramps down again. The result is that when the full speed threshold is reached, the fan constantly whirrs up every few seconds in a semi-random way.
(2) As noted, the BIOS does not use the correct 'Auto' settings for all memory types, you may need to set memory timings manually to get it to overclock.
(3) The Asus Probe hardware monitoring utility resets the Q-Fan threshold temperature to 0 degrees C every time you use it, and also in so doing causes the CPU fan to ramp up to full speed.
(4) The Realtek "High Definition" audio is not perfect, at least for me it has some glitches with some DTS soundtracks on DVD when using the SPDIF connection, although DD5.1 soundtracks are fine - this may be a driver issue?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 7:49 am 
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I just built a system around the Abit and it works well. I picked the Abit because of uGuru (very nice fan control), and the fact that it has more room between the GPU and CPU. This made it easier to use several GPU coolers that end up w/ fins above the card.

If you're going to use a Ninja (I am), then you do have to give some though to the NB and SB coolers. They get quiet warm (60C) w/ no airflow over them. I'm planning on taking the front intake fan in my P180 and moving it to the edge of the graphics card w/ a duct so that it will direct air right over the NB cooler which should take care of things.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 9:00 am 
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Location: UK
Quote:
The Q-Fan has no "hysteresis": when the fan ramps up to full speed, that rapidly has the effect of cooling the CPU enough that the fan speed ramps down again. The result is that when the full speed threshold is reached, the fan constantly whirrs up every few seconds in a semi-random way.


Hmm, seems the "intelligent" fan control is not so intelligent. We are still a long way from being overrun by intelligent machines a la Terminator or Matrix. :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 11:45 am 
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Short question close to the topic: does anyone know if it is possible to use the original backplate on the Abit At832 board for the installation of the ninja HS? I've heard about some issues with the backplate supplied with the ninja (sticks to the MB, clearance etc).

Apparently the Asus backplate works fine with ninja. Does anyoen know about Abit?

Thanks,

ionfreski


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 12:03 pm 
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Location: Michigan
jaganath wrote:
Hmm, seems the "intelligent" fan control is not so intelligent. We are still a long way from being overrun by intelligent machines a la Terminator or Matrix. :lol:

But Q-Fan is found on certain ASUS machines with the names Terminator and DIGIMatrix! :lol:


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 Post subject: Thread Title
PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 12:53 pm 
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Isn't the AN8 32X an nVidia board. The AT8 32X is the ATI version I'm sure :?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 1:18 pm 
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ionfresko wrote:
Short question close to the topic: does anyone know if it is possible to use the original backplate on the Abit At832 board for the installation of the ninja HS? I've heard about some issues with the backplate supplied with the ninja (sticks to the MB, clearance etc).

Apparently the Asus backplate works fine with ninja. Does anyoen know about Abit?

Thanks,

ionfreski


Don't know about the AT8 but the AN8 32X backplate works fine as is w/ the Ninja. The heat pipes barely clear the caps that surround the socket but they do make it.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread Title
PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 5:58 am 
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Firetech wrote:
Isn't the AN8 32X an nVidia board. The AT8 32X is the ATI version I'm sure :?


AT8 32x = ABIT RD580 board
A8R32 = ASUS RD580 board


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 Post subject: Re: Thread Title
PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 12:32 pm 
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jackylman wrote:
AT8 32x = ABIT RD580 board
A8R32 = ASUS RD580 board

Agreed, so why is the title "RD580 boards: Abit AN8.....?
FWIW if I could get an AT8 over here I'd have one of those (better fan control I think). Instead I'll wait for the AT9 32X's arrival in September with RD580 & SB600 :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Thread Title
PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 10:28 am 
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Firetech wrote:
o why is the title "RD580 boards: Abit AN8.....?

Corrected. :oops:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 3:01 am 
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Some pictures of my A8R32-MVP with Ninja:
Image
Here you can see:
* well-positioned CPU socket close to case fan and 120mm PSU fan
* just visible one of the aluminium heatsinks on the CPU power regulator MOSFETs to the left of the Ninja - these MOSFETs will be well cooled by the case fan
* plenty of clearance between the bottom side of the Ninja and the graphics card slot, basically there is plenty of space around the ATI NB (with its passive cooler)
* as a consequence the top expansion card space is empty: there is not even a PCI-Express x1 slot there
* there would therefore almost certainly be enough room for a graphics card with a passive cooler on the rear face (top)
* awkward position of the PCI-Express x1 slot: it would be unusable with a double-width graphics card in the primary PCI-Express x16 slot
* bizarre position of the fifth SATA port - I've put a red SATA cable in it to show just how weird it is. (There is also a sixth SATA port on the back panel, with an eSATA type connector.)

Note that the passive heatsink on the northbridge has vanes oriented for airflow from bottom to top, not right to left. It obviously is intended to get some spillover airflow from a CPU cooler of the standard 'flower' type. Unfortunately this is not ideal with a passive CPU cooler for example the Ninja or anything based mainly on right-to-left airflow from the case fan. Therefore the northbridge heatsink becomes quite hot with the Ninja, I would say at least 60 degrees. It is still stable in my system up to at least 270MHz bus speed (x5 Hypertransport bus multiplier = 1350MHz Hypertransport bus speed: that is fast), I have not tried higher. I have not tried removing and re-orienting that northbridge heatsink.

You can see how, apart from that fifth SATA port (which most people probably would not use), all the connectors are positioned neatly around the edge of the board: the bundle of small wires on the left hand side above the video card is the front panel audio connectors (my case has a front panel cable with untidy looking spare single-pin connectors for non-standard audio headers on motherboards, fortunately this one is standard). The front panel audio cable is running under the motherboard - this is the first board where I've been able to do that. All the IEEE1394 and USB headers are at the bottom edge of the motherboard, the fat grey wires go to the IEEE1394 sockets backplate in the second-from-bottom slot - done that way round so that my RAID card can take the bottom slot for neater routing of SATA cables.

Incidentally, you do all know that black computers are faster? Here the case, motherboard and graphics card are all black.

Image
Here you can see the clearance problem with the Ninja and the 'A' memory slots (the blue ones). It is the thumb-latch for the Ninja's clip that gets in the way. You have to use the 'B' memory slots (the black ones). In practice I'm not aware of any speed or stability difference between the 'A' and the 'B' memory slots on this motherboard although frankly my G-Skill ZX PC3200 memory is not the best to test this with. But I think you would have difficulties trying to install 4GB of RAM in this motherboard with a Ninja.

Image
This shows a (short) graphics card installed in the secondary PCI-Express x16 slot. You can see the well-positioned Southbridge which would not be snagged by a long graphics card in either the top or bottom PCI-Express x16 slot. This Crossfire board is clearly designed sensibly to allow for the possibility of actually using two monster graphics cards.

Edited to add paragraph about the northbridge heatsink


Last edited by inti on Wed May 17, 2006 1:37 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 3:09 am 
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Nice info & pics inti :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 3:19 am 
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Someone asked me a question in a PM: with the Asus A8R32-MVP, can a solo graphics card be installed in the lower (secondary) PCIex16 slot instead of the upper (primary) slot?

In short, the answer is "Yes". The final picture above shows my 7600GS installed in the lower slot and it boots and runs fine there (although I had to reinstall the drivers when it moved slots, because Windows detected new hardware). I've not benchmarked it scientifically but it seems to play my games just as fast in the lower slot as in the upper slot.

The motherboard manual says that proper configurations are:
- Upper slot: graphics card - Lower slot: empty
- Upper slot: graphics card - Lower slot: non-graphics PCIex16 card
- Upper slot: Crossfire master card - Lower slot: Crossfire card
- Upper slot: graphics card - Lower slot: graphics card (for non-Crossfire dual graphics card setups)

The manual says that other configurations "may" not boot or may POST slowly - I guess because the BIOS looks for a graphics card in the upper slot first.

Nevertheless in practice I have found the motherboard is perfectly happy with a solo graphics card in the lower slot like this:
- Upper slot: empty - Lower slot: graphics card
I did not notice the system POSTing more slowly. (However I suspect it might be unhappy if you then tried installing a non-graphics card in the upper PCIex16 slot.)

Having tried this, I have decided that I actually prefer it with the graphics card in the lower slot because it gives better airflow to the northbridge and southbridge and it allows for better access to the PCIex1 slot which is otherwise (as noted above) too close to the graphics card for comfort. With a passive card there is a graphics card ventilation issue in the lower slot but that can probably be solved nicely by leaving one of the lower PCI backplates open as an air intake, and filling the space between the graphics card and the case side so as to duct that cool air intake over the graphic card radiator.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 7:36 am 
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inti wrote:
Someone asked me a question in a PM: with the Asus A8R32-MVP, can a solo graphics card be installed in the lower (secondary) PCIex16 slot instead of the upper (primary) slot?


FYI the Abit works w/ this as well. They actually explicitely state in the manual that you can use either and that both will run at x16 speed for the GPU. I've seen a few people say they've run lower slot on SLI setups on non dual x16 boards but I'm guessing those run at x8 (which probably doesn't matter for most things anyway).


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 Post subject: Crossfire config
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 2:48 pm 
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Latest info/rumour from ATI on Crossfire cards seems to be: Locate the Master card in the lower slot and slave in the top slot no matter what the MB manual says.......
You may have to make alterations in the BIOS but the abit AT8 32X apparantly doesn't have that option in the stock BIOS and it's now off the Crossfire Certified list. TBC?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 5:29 pm 
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inti, the oddly placed SATA port on the A8R32 is meant to be an external SATA port.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 6:10 am 
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jackylman wrote:
inti, the oddly placed SATA port on the A8R32 is meant to be an external SATA port.

Thanks but are you sure about that? Pretty definitely looks like an internal port to me and I am now using it as that: I have a hard drive connected to it. There is also an external SATA port on the back panel which sports an eSATA connector. The oddly placed fifth internal SATA port is there I guess because they had one port left over on the SIL3112 chip used to create the back panel eSATA port so they thought why not use it. It is oddly placed on the motherboard but apart from that it works just fine as an internal port.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 11:56 pm 
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inti wrote:
Here you can see the clearance problem with the Ninja and the 'A' memory slots (the blue ones). It is the thumb-latch for the Ninja's clip that gets in the way. You have to use the 'B' memory slots (the black ones). [...] But I think you would have difficulties trying to install 4GB of RAM in this motherboard with a Ninja.


Damn, that's not good, I really want 4 gigs eventually.
How about memory without heatspreaders (like the corsair value for example), will those also not fit? On some other images I saw of another board, the fan was mounted slighly higher on the ninja using zip-ties, could that work?
I also assume you simply can't just rotate the ninja 90 degrees and not have the clip there at all?

Sigh. This is turning out to be a real problem. I don't know what board to use now. :(


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 1:20 am 
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@ceselb, it is the metal thumb latch on the Ninja heatsink itself that causes a problem, it is not a question of fan mounting (I have no fan as you can see from the pics). In other words on the Asus board, I think the thumb latch on the Ninja would foul any memory in Slot A, with or without heat spreaders - with no heatspreader I'm pretty sure the thumb latch would actually touch either the chips or the PCB of the memory, but even if not touching it would I think be too close to press down the thumb latch properly after memory is installed (and obviously you would need to install the memory before installing the Ninja). It would not be possible to rotate the Ninja 90 degrees, as the thumb latch needs to go into the Ninja baseplate and the baseplate has only one orientation although from above the cooler looks symmetrical (see diagrams here).

I suppose you could snip off the offending thumb latch using a pair of tin snips, if you are fairly unlikely ever to need to replace the CPU or cooler (it would be difficult to install or remove the Ninja without that thumb latch present, it is hard enough already without snipping it off!)

Otherwise if you want 4GB of RAM then you need either a different motherboard or a different cooler, sorry.


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 3:01 am 
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Further correction to the above: I took another look inside my PC and the thumblatch would not be physically touching the RAM in slot A even if it has big heat spreaders, the thumblatch is at least 5mm too high to touch it.

But I do still think it would be impossible to install memory in slot A on the Asus A8R32-MVP with a Ninja already in position. It might be possible to install the memory in slot A and then install the Ninja but you would need more dexterity than me to clip down the thumb latch without snagging the memory in the process! (When I was building my PC I tried that but I did not want to risk damaging the memory or its slot, so I moved my memory to slot B.)

As a separate point on video cards: I've noticed the Asus BIOS (version 0404) has an option for whether to boot the graphics system through the primary or secondary PCI-e slot.


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 5:24 pm 
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There is an incompatibilty between the Asus A8R32-MVP and the newest Seagate 7200.10 SATA drives (I have a 320GB drive, not the 750GB). The 7200.10 drive has slow writes when connected to the southbridge SATA ports (approximately 25% to 30% of the proper speed), but runs without issues when connected to the fifth internal SATA port, the one driven by the SiI3112 chip.


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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 12:22 am 
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I've been helping someone with a build using the Ninja on an A8R32-MVP with 4 sticks of RAM. He made it work by installing the Ninja before the RAM, then bending the tab upwards to make room to insert the RAM. He also had to bend the lowest fin very slightly to make it fit.

Image

I can't be sure if it's likely to be more brittle now, but at least it's possible to remove the RAM without removing the heatsink.

There's enough adjustment in the fan height to sit above the RAM, though it touches the RAM at present - does anyone know if that would be a problem?

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